Teens still falling victim to online ‘sextortion’
Two years after Amanda Todd was driven to suicide by online tormentors, other teens are still posting compromising images that lead to trouble
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection says it is seeing an alarming increase in the number of teens who are sharing sexual images of themselves through live web chats and then being extorted for money.
The centre, based in Winnipeg, said its tip line has received more than a dozen calls from teens in the past few weeks saying they are being blackmailed this way.
Signy Arnason, the centre’s associate director, said an adult poses as a teenager and secretly records teens exposing themselves. The adult then threatens to share the sexual images unless the teen pays between $200 and $900.
“The number 1 request from these kids is, ‘I just want this to go away, I don’t want my parents to know,’ ” Arnason said. “It’s, ‘Help me, help me make this issue go away.’ ”
This kind of “sextortion” has been blamed for driving some tormented teens to commit suicide.
Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old in British Columbia, committed suicide in 2012 after being extorted for two years. She exposed herself while on a web chat and the image was used to blackmail her into putting on another “show” online. She eventually posted a heartbreaking, nine-minute video online detailing her torment before committing suicide.
The suicide of another sexually exploited teenager in Nova Scotia in 2013, who cannot be named under a publication ban, turned a spotlight on cyberbullying and prompted new laws on the distribution of sexual images.
But Arnason said this kind of continued sexual extortion highlights the risks teens face with live video streaming because they can be filmed without their knowledge. She said teenagers are impulsive and sexually curious — a deadly combination online.